WTA Auckland: Venus Williams moves on, Wozniacki crashes out

Venus beat 2017 champion Lauren Davis, Andreescu upset the Dane to complete the biggest win of her career

by Alessandro Mastroluca
WTA Auckland: Venus Williams moves on, Wozniacki crashes out

Venus Williams had won Wimbledon twice and the Us Open the day Amanda Anisimova was born. They will both feature in the Auckland quarterfinals as Venus will face Wozniacki/Andreescu, while the Russian-born American awaits Viktoria Kuzmova in a clash between future stars.

Venus completed an assured 6-4 6-3 win over wildcard Lauren Davis, who won the title here in 2017 beating four seeds. She will meet Bianca Andreescu who upset the first seed Carline Wozniacki 6-4 6-4. The Canadian scored her best win in terms of ranking to reach her second career WTA quarterfinal.

The American teenager Anisimova, the youngest player in the top 100, offered an impressive performance during her 6-3 6-3 victory over fifth seed Barbora Strycova. Viktoria Kuzmova, playing at career-high No.54, advanced to the last eight with a 7-5 5-7 6-3 victory over Sofia Kenin.

Last year, Davis took an extended break from April to July admitting she was "burned out". She missed home, missed hed family and felt she needed to make a step back. "It was a growing experience for me and I had to learn to accept it.

I made the decision to take a few months off, right when I had to defend a whole lot of points," New Zealand Herald quoted her to say. However, she gave glimpses of her 2017 form and forced Williams not to relax. Venus, the oldest player in the draw, had celebrated her 465th main draw win in her 600th match on hardcourt at WTA level when she defeated Azarenka.

"I think it was even cleaner tennis than the first round, but I'm still searching for perfection. She really can hit the ball," Williams said after the match. Neither player faced a break point over the first five games of the match.

Davis used her forehand to outmaneuvre Williams who ofter turned the tables with her trademark crosscourt backhands. Venus made her opponent work for her shots and insisted in offering her low returns directed to her body or to her forehands, and at ebery chance she came to the net to seal the point.

Williams converted her second opportunity in the sixth to move ahead at 4-2, failed to convert a set point in the eighth game, and gifted the break back to 5-4 although Davis lost her serve for the second straight time to give Williams a one-set lead.

Davis, aiming for her 36th career win over Top 50 opponents, the first since beating No.10 Radwanska in the first round of Eastbourne in 2017, overhit and opened the second set suffering another break. Venus made her experience work for her.

She's one of the seven players ast their 33rd birthday in the top 250 in the worldm alongside her sister Serena, Kaia Kanepi, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva. "She is doing amazing and I am very proud that she is still on the tour and continues to inspire us as players," said Azarenka after her first-round loss against the veteran American, who redefined the term 'ageless' in sport as she began her 25th year as a professional tennis player.

"It takes a lot of focus, a lot of determination, it's just you out there," said Williams. "So it takes a lot of responsibility. But I'm up for it ... that's all I can say. The best part is still being able to do what you love, and do it well".

Venus, who felt like at home in Auckland since her first appearance in 2014, surrendered just six points on serve overall to book a spot in the last eight. Anisimova, who rose more than 100 places in the rankings last year, has all the shots and left Strycova befuddled by the variety and control of her shots.

She continued to mix power with precision while Strycova struggled to impose her variations to counter her opponent's energy. But equally impressive was her mental composure, a significant improvement in her attitude that was the result of her drive and hard work.

"I wasn't like that from day one but definitely it helps me and I feel like for my opponents it's hard on them when I keep my composure like that, it's definitely a huge plus for me" she said. "[Today] physically everything was there, so it was just about staying strong mentally because it was a very close match." Anisimova will face fellow youngster Kuzmova, who followed her victory over fourth Tamara Zidansek with another effective performance on serve.

She hit 20 aces and won 76% of first serve points against Kenin who fought hard but lacked in her locker a defining stroke that could destabilize her opponent. The Slovakian out maneuvered her massively thanks to her down the line backhands and sealed the second win in three meetings.

Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) - Sofia Kenin (USA) 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
[WC] Amanda Anisimova (USA) - Barbora Strycova (CZE) [5] 6-3, 6-3
Venus Williams (USA) [6] - [WC] Lauren Davis (USA) 6-4, 6-3 
[Q] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) - Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [1] 6-4 6-4 

Wta Auckland Venus Williams Lauren Davis